Penny Pinchin’ Pro: Debra’s Cheap Vacation

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Debra emailed me a couple of months back and shared her successful vacation story.  Now is the time of year to start planning for your summer vacation and Debra’s got some great tips as to how they did it for little out of pocket expense!

First, we save money all year for vacation and we don’t go anywhere unless we have the money to pay for the whole thing.  I signed up for alerts from Southwest airlines for good fares.  I was able to get our plane tickets for half price.  We ended up having to stay on a plane several hours extra and stopping some places that were out of the way, but it was still an enjoyable trip. 

We booked the rental car at the same time  so it was also cheaper.  We checked with our car insurance and found out we were covered in a rental car, so we didn’t waste our money on expensive rental car insurance policies at the airport.  We stayed with my mother-in-law so there were no motel costs. 

Throughout the year, I click thru on all the emails to get points.  I saved all my points for at least a year and used the site for 1 major purchase.  It gave me enough points to get several gift cards for restaurants.  We were able to take my mother-in-law out to eat every meal but breakfast for a week and most of the meals didn’t cost anything.  That gave us money from our vacation fund to take the rest of the family out for some of the meals. 

For entertainment, we did things at state parks which cost less than $10 per day.  We love the outdoors and these were the things we wanted to do anyway, so it wasn’t just being cheap for cheapness’ sake. 

All totaled, right around $1000 for air fare, rental car, meals, lodging, and entertainment for a week.  Even better yet, we used our credit card, which we pay off monthly, to pay for the flight and rental car.  It also gives us points.  We had a few major purchases throughout the year on this credit card. 

So we cashed in our points and when we came home, we had $150 in free gift cards for groceries.  It feels so awesome and empowering to take control of your money and what it can do for you.

Thanks for sharing Debra!! 


Do you have a great story about how you were able to save extra money this holiday, or how you saved to pay cash for your new refrigerator or even a nice haul at your favorite store this week? If so, you might be our next featured Penny Pinchin’ Pro! Head here for more details on how to submit your money saving story.


  1. Heather Hotz says

    Just by LOOKING for deals you an easily have a fun filled vacation. I plan a year in advance….just looking for deals and jumping on them when they occur. For example, every year my husband and I take a “just us, no kids” trip. Last year we went to Ireland (love the EU) – and despite the current state of the dollar we did the entire trip (7 nights/8 days, airfare, three star hotels/bed & breakfasts, food, rental car, spending money, etc) for a little less then $1200. We did NOT eat “cheap” food, we submerged ourselves in the culture. It’s not impossible to do….you just have to have the time and energy to search for deals and find the BEST time of the year to visit…(we went in May, which is off-season)